An assessment of planning challenges facing an emerging commercial district in Nairobi. A case study of 3rd Avenue, Eastleigh, Nairobi

Emergence of an area as commercial district from residential land use is normally associated
with various advantages and disadvantages. There are many planning challenges that arise as
a result of the emergence of a commercial district in an area originally under residential land use
only. This research study is an attempt to study the planning challenges that arises as a result
of emergence of a commercial district in a residential neighbourhood.
The research study focuses on assessing the planning challenges facing an emerging
commercial district. The case study area to this research is Eastleigh First and Second
Avenues, Eastleigh, Nairobi.
Emergence of commercial districts in residential areas lead to many planning challenges,
especially when not well planned for in advance. These planning challenges, when not
addressed make the area perform badly as a commercial district. The planning challenges also
leads to depreciation in value of the area as a residential neighbourhood.
In this research study, various findings have been discussed. The main findings entail what was
originally planned in Eastleigh and the major planning challenges in Eastleigh First and Second
Avenues. These are discussed below:
What was originally planned in Eastleigh
Eastleigh area as a whole had been planned for residential land use. The residential estate was
established in 1921 and was designated for the Asian community and elite Africans. The area
was commonly referred to as the Asian conclave.
When being established, the following services were planned for and provided to cater for the
residential estate:
 Sewerage services and support sewerage network
 Tarmacked roads
 Storm water drainage network

 Open spaces for public use, for future expansion and for future government use.
 Solid waste collection services
 Road maintenance services
 Piped water services to the homes
 Sufficient pathway for pedestrians
The facilities and services were planned for Eastleigh area as a residential estate.
These services were sufficient for Eastleigh when the estate was still new and for many
years that followed. However, since 1963, there has been rapid population increase in
Eastleigh which has led to a strain on most of these services e.g. the demand for
sewerage services, piped water services, road space and road usage needs far much
exceeds the capacity of the existing services and facilities.
There are also no public open spaces in Eastleigh. In Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues, for
example, there are no public open spaces for public use. There is also only a very small
proportion of private open space in the area.
The pathways which were also sufficiently provided for when Eastleigh was being
established have reduced in size greatly. In some sections of the study area, the
pathways have been encroached on by traders and developers making the pedestrians
walk on the highway or access roads meant for vehicles only.
This situation has been worsened by the transformation of Eastleigh residential estate into a
busy commercial district which translates into increased demand for sewerage service, piped
water services, solid waste collection services, roads expansion, provision of open spaces and
provision of other services associated with commercial districts. Despite the emergence of
Eastleigh as a commercial District, physical infrastructure and important services have not been
upgraded to meet the increased demand. This has resulted into many planning challenges in
Eastleigh as a whole, and in the study are: Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues.
Major Planning Challenges in Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues
Poor road conditions
The roads in Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues have deteriorated over the years and are currently in
a very bad state. There are many pot holes along Eastleigh 2nd Avenue road, Eastleigh 1st
Avenue and on General Waruinge Road, especially at the roundabout between Eastleigh 1st
Avenue and General Waruinge Road and the roundabout between Eastleigh 2nd Avenue and
General Waruinge street.
Poor solid waste disposal

A strain on sewerage services and piped water services
The demand for sewerage services and piped water services is far much greater than the
existing capacity of the sewerage and piped water service provided. This has led to bursting of
sewers and water shortage in Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues.
Encroachment of business activities on road reserves
There are many traders who sell their commodities on road reserves in Eastleigh. Actually, in
some parts of the area, e.g. Garissa lodge area of Eastleigh First Avenue, traders sell their
products on the edge of the road or on the road. This is associated to lack of a market place for
the street vendors or hawkers.
Insufficient parking space for vehicles
There is insufficient on-street and off parking for vehicles in Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues. This
not favorable to the traders who have their businesses in the area nor to their clients who visit
the business premises by car to buy goods or to obtain services. There are cases where
motorists park their vehicles just along the edge of the road or on the pathways thereby
inconveniencing other motorists and pedestrians, respectively.
Reduction in open spaces
The increasing number of businesses has led to a great reduction in open spaces in Eastleigh
1st and 2nd Avenues and Eastleigh as a whole. Most of the open spaces that existed in Eastleigh
1st and 2nd Avenue have been developed on for commercial use.
The reduction in open spaces has negatively impacted on recreational activities such as games,
sports and other outdoor activities in Eastleigh 1st and 2nd Avenues. This is because the open
spaces were earlier on used for recreational activities such as games and sports, and leisure
activities by the residents.
Lack of play spaces for children
Lack of play children play spaces is a major problem experienced in both Eastleigh 1st and 2nd
Avenues. Most of the open spaces in Eastleigh 1st and 2nd avenues are either used for parking
or as business spaces for informal traders. The increasing business activities and number of
motor vehicles in the area has taken up areas formerly used as play spaces by children. The children cannot play on their local streets due to the fast moving vehicles and the encroachment
of the streets by street vendors.

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